Archpriest George Orekhanov: Karen Stepanyan loved Dostoevsky, Russian life, Russia

I was very close to Karen Ashotovich – it this love is not only Dostoevsky, but in Russian life in Russian the world in Russian of the XIX century. He really was a patriot in the truest sense of the word. His patriotism has never been politicized and it has not turned patriotism into a mechanism of manipulation. He just loved Russia (though born in Armenia, but I think his Homeland, he considered the Soviet Union) and was really worried about our difficulties, failures, problems.

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Archpriest George Orekhanov

I can’t say exactly how many years we know. I read his article, and I really wanted to meet him. Karen Ashotovich regularly participated in our annual conference in the “Yasnaya Polyana”, and at some point – two or three years ago – he came to me he came up and said, “how about we have at St. Tikhon’s University will create a “Center of Dostoevsky”. I was very happy because, firstly, I myself have had that idea and dream, and secondly it’s an honor to have at the University such a wonderful employee like Karen Ashotovich. We designed our new center as the Center for the study of Russian spiritual culture of the XIX – first third of XX century.

But really, Karen Ashotovich we had to work only six months – from February 2018. During this time he won a grant from RFBR (Russian Foundation of fundamental research) in anticipation of the anniversary of Dostoevsky in 2021.

Karen Ashotovich was a modest man, not too talkative, and I don’t know all the details of his biography. But we had many conversations with him on different topics, I read all his articles, reports. And, as I now understand, he was my closest person. I’ve met a lot of people – elderly scholars of the old school who had a difficult life. I love people like her. They differently look at the world.

Karen Ashotovich, on the one hand, was a very old-fashioned. Will you meet such a person on the street and would think that this is just an old man. As we now realize, for years he struggled with the disease. Didn’t want to be treated and until the last moment concealed from everyone that is sick. So his death was for all of us like thunder from a clear sky.

But on the other hand, it was incredibly modern man, but not quite in the ordinary sense. What is it manifested? Karen Ashotovich loved young people, loved to give lectures in schools – he is also the author of several guides to the novels of Dostoevsky, they are specially written for school teachers and students. One day he in any conversation with colleagues said: “Now all the abuse our young, and think she’s ignorant. But I have a different opinion. We have now a new generation is formed – they are drawn to culture, knowledge, creativity. Another thing that life puts them in such conditions that satisfy these needs has become more difficult”.

One day he surprised us with a story about how he first heard of Charles Aznavour. He was then a schoolboy. Many did not understand the work of this singer, but Karen Ashotovich then something very clearly realized that culture may be. Recently my mother asked him how he feels about the rap. And he replied that, from his point of view, it’s real poetry, which may be contaminated with something minor, some litter. But it’s poetry. Here is a combination of academic, maybe some of the old-fashioned and young at spirit, youthful heart.

Of course, we all consider ourselves his disciples and will continue our common cause. We will prepare for the anniversary of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. From the 10 of October we will start the second project is a two-year lecture series on various aspects of Russian spiritual culture. Those six months that Karen Ashotovich we had to work, we will never forget. He left an enormous scientific legacy of books, articles, reports, books.

Actually, I was very close to Karen Ashotovich – it this love is not only Dostoevsky, but in Russian life in Russian the world in Russian of the XIX century. He really was a patriot in the truest sense of the word. His patriotism has never been politicized and it has not turned patriotism into a mechanism of manipulation. He just loved Russia (though born in Armenia, but I think his Homeland, he considered the Soviet Union) and was really worried about our difficulties, failures, problems.

But it all looked quite optimistic. This is another one of its remarkable feature. We now have such sentiments in society about every problem starts is the universal “splashing acid”: everything is bad, nothing can be done, it is impossible That from him I’m such a pessimistic view of life do not remember. He is very optimistic looking at the world. This view I would call Christian. So people were drawn to him. At the funeral there were many people, many came specifically from other cities to say goodbye to him. Now his colleagues, the staff of world literature, exhibited his photos in social networks, writing short memories and even in these photos you can see what it was joyful.

He was a real Orthodox Christian in the fullest sense of the word. Not only because he was a religious man, never missed service and kept everything you need. He was a Christian it was for the dispensation of his – he was very humble, modest man. I know some of the details of his personal life and I can say that the fate was very difficult. But I think that he is being accepted for real. It’s like… very attracted. I do not remember a case that he was condemned, that he that’s a little harsh or critical about someone or something spoke. He was a real Christian.

Recorded Olga Lunina

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